Calming, serene, respectful.

THE OLD WOMAN

An old woman transits through an autumn day, evening, and overnight to dawn, unhurriedly observing nature’s cues.

She and her dog live in a simply furnished old house. Most days, the dog chases squirrels, then dozes indoors on an old rug. On a walk in the hills, they observe a crow, and the woman marvels at what it would be like to fly. The woman throws sticks for the dog to fetch and finds a stout walking stick for herself. They rest at a familiar boulder “with its perfect seat.” Whirling fall leaves trigger a memory of playing outside for hours. Kazemi draws the woman in her younger form, hair now dark against her pale skin, dancing among the leaves. The artist’s lovely illustrations blend chalky graphite-gray with pastel and rusty autumnal accents. The full harvest moon rises, and the woman thinks of words to describe it: “huge, looming, warm, gentle, enormous, dreamy, peaceful, autumnal—magnificent.” Next morning, stiff and achy from the long walk, she goes outside to watch the sun rise. “There was a chill in the air. Soon it would be cold. It always comes like this, thought the old woman, and yet no one day is the same as another.” This beautifully contemplative portrait is notable for its depiction of a capable elder, dwelling not amid illness, regret, or grief, but in the moment, relishing each day’s unique beauty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 91.5% of actual size.)

Calming, serene, respectful. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-211-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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